Category Archives: games

The Orange Box

The Orange BoxI’ve extolled upon the virtues of Team Fortress 2 already here on this site in a previous post, but now finally Valve’s ‘The Orange Box’ is available for play.

If you’ve already preordered this, you’ve played most of what TOB has to offer. Half-life 2 and Episode 1 have been out for months already, and the Team Fortress 2 beta has been nothing short of mind blowing. Now we finally have our hands on Portal and Episode 2.

Episode 2 is quite a bit longer than Episode 1, and provides a ton of setpiece combat sequences. I won’t spoil any of the details obviously, but there’s a ton to love here if you’re a fan of HL2, and the storyline continues in riveting fashion.

Portal is nothing short of a breath of fresh air. More of a puzzle game than anything, you’re tasked with traversing various environments using a portal generating gun, letting you warp around via the blue and orange portals you can throw around at almost any surface. It’s pretty mind bending, and is a totally hilarious experience thanks to some brilliant narration. The game also has one of the best end credits ever.

All in all, Orange Box is a ridiculous value for the money. Highly recommended.

EVE TV Is Free Free Free

EVE TV LogoFor those who might not know, EVE TV is officially free. Well truthfully it’s been free for the last few episodes, but it’s worth mentioning since they’re finally ditching Jalipo as the streaming provider.

Jalipo was, put simply, horrid. The pay-per-view model they were using for EVE TV is not compatible with the EVE playerbase. EVE TV is using Brightcove right now, and the difference is… commercials. Between each segment of EVE TV you’ll be greeted with a quick 15-30 second commercial just like on real TV. This really isn’t all that obtrusive, since you can just not watch them (check your email, poke around in EVE, etc).

Now content wise the last few EVE TV episodes have been pretty lackluster. The Goons episode, my gawd. The only thing worth watching was the Eagle profile, and even then I skipped it since I don’t fly Caldari ships. Honestly, I pretty much fast-forwarded to the end credits. The end credits have been the best part of EVE TV recently, showing all the silliness that happens when the cameras are rolling but nobody expects them to be. It’s amusing of course, but as much as it pains me to say it, they’re the best part of the episodes lately.

Lets hope the content improves, because it’d be a shame to see the show spiral downwards when it’s now available to anyone to watch.

Finished the Fight

Halo 3 BoxSo I picked up Halo 3 on Tuesday just like half a bazillion other people. Finished the campaign that night. Don’t worry, I won’t spoil anything for you.

So far my experience with H3 has been well… mostly what I expected it to be. It’s Halo 2 with prettier graphics and some gameplay tweaks, and overall it’s a better multiplayer experience than Halo 2. That’s the main draw, really. Campaign wise it wasn’t short, just easy to finish in a single long sitting if you’re so inclined. :)

Multiplayer wise so far it’s a bit tighter of an experience than H2. The addition of Forge for creating your own custom games will no doubt prove to be a great addition, and the theater lets you share your videos and pics with others. -10 points for charging us MS points to store more. Google gives me gigabytes of free space for my email, why can’t Bungie give a few gigs for free when a billion people preordered their game?

Money grubbing for the LOSE.

Really the micropayment crap and marketing blitz for Halo 3 is designed to make you spend tons of cash, when really the normal edition of the game will let you do everything you need to do to enjoy the experience. So stick with that, and you’ll have no regrets about buying this, as long as you’re not looking for a lengthy campaign.

Valve Did Something Cool

This has been a heck of a week for Valve. They finally put the Steam Community out to the masses, finally out of beta. It’s essentially Xbox Live for the PC, except it’s free, doesn’t suck, and isn’t full of foul-mouthed 12-year olds.

The neat part about this is the ability to create a profile for yourself, describing your person to the world a bit, listing some of your favorite stuff, and tracking various gameplay stats. Here’s mine. It also lets you better track what your buddies are doing, and form or join groups with them. For example, the group I started this week for Mercenary Coalition, the EVE alliance I play with.

All of this comes with the eminent release of The Orange Box, Valve’s new Half-life 2 bundling which includes Team Fortress 2. The kicker is this week, if you’ve preordered that, they’ve treated you to a beta of TF2. TF2 is so ridiculously fun practically everyone I know goes home after work and plays it. It’s stylized like a Pixar cartoon, though one that doesn’t suck. Though the best way to describe how it looks is to see it, so here’s a clip. And I dare say the finished product (this clip is from GC2006) looks even more impressive.

Again, insanely fun, and there’s so many little goofy details in how the characters move and react. Definitely worth the wait. Valve’s also added some insane stats tracking for TF2 that adds achievements, similar to Xbox Live. Though here it doesn’t seem like some contrived way to make you play the game more, just some nifty stuff it keeps track of so you can compare with your friends.

To be honest, this has been the most impressive effort for Valve, in my opinion, to date. The whole package is there, and it’s a ton of fun at just the right price.

Warp Drive Active #135: A Solid Win

Linkage

Well the 4th Alliance Tournament is over, and the winner … *drum roll*… is HUN Reloaded! Congratulations go out to them, it was definitely an excellent win with a superb setup and team which worked very well together.

I don’t think anyone expected it to go that way, and personally I love it when this kind of thing happens. It was refreshing to have a tournament where the sure thing didn’t win, which should serve to prove to all the alliances out there that you don’t have to own have the map in EVE to be able to compete in these things. Overall the production of this tournament was top notch, with no streaming issues to speak of. This let everyone watch the matches live, and the inclusion of free streams of the prior days’ matches let you recap what you may have missed. Definitely a worthy feature.

The commentary for the final weekend was excellent, save for a few way-too-drunk moments on Sunday. :) And the “CCP vs EVE TV” fight was a riot to watch, especially to see CCP mop the floor with the EVE TV crew.

Caldari Navy HookbillFor the final day’s matches I was lucky enough to be brought over to the tournament system to snag some screenshots. On a whim, I decided to do a bit of virtual photoblogging, putting up a bunch of shots from the tournament in near real-time on Flickr. If you’re curious and want to see what happened during the fights, venture over to my EVE 4th Alliance Tournament photo set and check it out.

A special thank you from me to the GMs who helped organize the event and the fights themselves, and allowed me to attend it in person. :)

Wilhelm Naked No More

A while back on Warp Drive Active podcast #5 we did a contest involving sci-fi quotes. We picked a winner, and as a prize he got himself a t-shirt with the comic of his choice emblazoned on the front. Being lazy, I didn’t get around to blogging about this, but here’s a link to his blog about it, including pictures of the shirt.

Congratulations once again Wilhelm.

EVE Tournament, weekend followup, controversy

The 4th EVE Alliance Tournament’s first weekend is over. You’ll hear some brief comments of mine on the Warp Drive Active podcast this week (due out today/tomorrow). Overall the action was good, there were some snores in the form of fights which were simply full of turtle logistics, which while effective is pretty much the worst thing to broadcast live for people to watch. Commentary was uneven, but on average was the best of any tournament so far. The effort taken to enlist several PVP experts from the community to talk about the fights has paid off.

Fallout from the tournament continues even now after the fights have finished. A big one happened today, with the announcement that Mercenary Coalition is pulling out of the tournament. You can read the announcement on this thread, along with the replies of the community. Seleene explains things in a bit more detail on page 2, while some of the replies serve more to justify the decision than anything else.

The situation this year is kind of strange. We have a really well produced tournament, with CCP and EVE TV doing an amazing job of putting on a good show for everyone to watch. It’s free. It’s for us, the players of EVE. There are a lot of people in Iceland right now working hard, long hours, to bring the action to the masses.

So why is the EVE TV forum turned into a complete sewer, filled with sad examples of poor sportsmanship, alt trolling, and a general harassing tone towards the event organizers?

I don’t know what really to say about this. I’m not surprised the obtuse viewpoints of some will fail to realize the reasons behind the MC’s decision, even when it’s explicitly laid out for them in a forum post. I feel bad that my alliance’s team won’t continue on, but I understand and support that decision wholeheartedly.

I’ll continue to watch the tournament and see who wins in the end, and we’ll see what kind of sensible debate can be had about the subject in the WDA podcast’s half-time cast coming soon.

The Tournament, So Far

So the EVE Tournament’s been going now for two days, and is scheduled to keep going tomorrow, and Friday-Sunday next weekend. How’re things going so far?

I wasn’t able to tune in much on Friday, since the tournament was running while I was at work, but I had the streams running and overall from what I saw things were going pretty smoothly from a technical perspective. Things weren’t so smooth today though, with some annoying buffering issues happening throughout the day.

So far the action in the tournament’s been a mixed bag. Ridiculous fleet setups were fairly common on day one, which isn’t much of a surprise. A lot of teams seemed to be testing the waters of the new rules this year, and the changes proved to be interesting for some teams. As the tournament progresses I think the silly setups will fall away in favor of balanced teams.

The commentary this year has been pretty well top notch, with EVE TV handling the overall production of the tournament presentation, bringing in PVP experts from the community. While the commentators know what they’re talking about, there’s somewhat of a lack of … I don’t know, interesting banter between the commentators themselves. It’s fairly robotic, I suppose. And there’s somewhat less in the way of commentary that might be beneficial and helpful to brand new players to EVE, or players thinking of getting into the game. Just a bit more “what the hell we’re talking about” asides, maybe.

You can’t have a tournament without some controversy of course. Nebula Rasa wigged out on the forums as well, pissed off that they lost to The Mercenary Coalition. Look, the match was a borked at the start thanks to people on both sides losing connections. Folks on both sides came back online, and folks on both sides were removed by the GMs for repeated crashes. The match started, one side won. Can’t people lose gracefully?

And today, Goonfleet showed up with a fleet whos total point value was over the maximum allowed by the rules. The max is 100, Goonies showed up with 109, and they were forfeited by the GMs handling the events. Voila, a rabble thread on the forums was born. Personally I think that step was a bit too harsh by the GMs, they could have just asked them to pick a ship to be dropped from the team and moved on. Instead we were left with the studio commentary team awkwardly try to stretch out some sort of discussion to fill up the 20 minutes of match time.

Overall the tournament’s working out well this year, and as we go forward and the teams start dropping away, the action will no doubt get more and more interesting.

Another Odd EVE Blog

Saruwatari is a new player to EVE, and has started a new EVE-related blog called Odd Pod Out. In a way it’s a continuous review of EVE from the viewpoint of a newbie player, but there’s some pretty good insights there for those who are totally new to the game.

I don’t hide the fact that I enjoy the new player perspective, even though a lot of vets could care less. But Saruwatari’s writing is excellent, and the attitude being displayed is pretty mature. Also, it’s updated frequently.